The Jersey Boys screening, in honor of original founding member of the Four Seasons Tommy DeVito on his 86th birthday, was a lovely gesture from Warner Bros. Pictures and Michael E. Minden Jewelers. The party and screening was held at the Palms Casino and Resort, with the film being shown for invitees only at the Brenden Palms Theatre. Prior to moving up a few floors to the birthday celebrations, interviews were granted to the local press in the private office of the casino’s owner.
Going into the office the first thing one notices is the giant aquarium that almost fills an entire wall. Inside this enormous fish tank is a shark that is roughly four feet long. The whole thing feels a bit Live and Let Die and it seemed as though either James Bond or Mr. Big would come strolling into the room at any moment. Despite this surreal 007 moment the room felt welcoming if not a bit overwhelming.
Tommy DeVito sat in a massive leather armchair. He rose to his feet when the members of the press entered and seemed very pleased that the journos had arrived. The amount of time allowed for each interview was roughly four minutes, which seemed fair enough. It was, after all, Tommy’s 86th birthday and the evening was just getting started.
Mr. DeVito is a very soft spoken gentleman who is very polite and a pleasure to talk to. Prior to the screening of Jersey Boys on his birthday that night, he and I mistakenly believed that his longtime friend Joe Pesci had been omitted from the film version of show. This was down to IMDb not listing Joe in the credits and Tommy’s not having seen much of the film before the screening.
Here is the interview:
Guardian Liberty Voice (GLV): “Hello Mr. DeVito, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to have a chat with me and to wish you a happy 86th birthday.”
Tommy: Thank you very much.
GLV: “I know we only have a short time so I’ll jump right in. I know that last year, you gave a local interview about your mixed feelings on the stage version of Jersey Boys and how it portrayed you. Did you have a chance to rectify that; did anyone come to speak to you about that?”
Tommy: “No, nobody came to me, that’s what I know and if you’re going to do somebody you should want to do their background and find out how they really are.
GLV: “So you were left out of the loop for both.”
Tommy: “I guess they didn’t care.”
GLV: “That’s absolutely amazing. Will tonight’s screening be the first time you’ve seen the film or have you had chance to see it already?”
Tommy: “I haven’t seen all of it yet, but I did see some of it. I think in terms of the truth? They got around 75 percent right. It seemed to show things in the proper light and give a better rendition of what we did.”
GLV: “Obviously you must be very pleased.”
Tommy: ” Well, no one came to talk to me and really they should have. It would make sense that they would want to get all the facts about the person that they were writing about.”
GLV: “Looking at the Jersey Boys cast list on the stage show I noticed that Joe Pesci is a “character” in the show and it doesn’t look like he made it to the film. He appears to have been left out, isn’t that odd?”
*In the film’s cast list, Mr Pesci is listed as just “Joey,” this along with the fact that Tommy had not seen much of the film, added to the confusion.*
Tommy: “That seems to be the case. A lot of people don’t understand that Joey Pesci is a great actor. I’ve known Joey a long time, since he was seven years-old.”
GLV: “I know that you two have been friends a long, long time.”
Tommy: “He is an amazing talent and most people do not realize that.”
GLV: “Well, it looks like my time is up, I’d like to thank you again Mr. Devito for taking the time to chat with me.”
After the interview there was a moment for a quick photo and then it was off to the birthday bash. After arriving at the venue and getting off the elevator the first thing anyone saw was Joe Pesci and Tommy DeVito greeting each other and the fondness the two men share for one another was readily apparent.
At the party, there were free drinks, very tasty culinary treats, speeches from several luminaries, including the “birthday boy” and cake. Then it was off to the red carpet and the film itself.
The screening had an audience of family, friends, celebs, and certain glitterati from Las Vegas where Tommy lives. The atmosphere was jovial, excited, and, for lack of a better word, satisfied.
Perhaps because I have not seen the stage show, which people assure me is much better than the film, and watched the movie in such a congenial air of acceptance, I have to say that I really enjoyed it. While director Clint Eastwood loves music, specifically jazz, and did such a wonderful job on Bird there are those that feel he turned a musical into a drama and lost something in this change.
I have to disagree. Jersey Boys is a drama, with touches of comedy and it is a story of persistence, loss, fame and pathos. The film’s actors, Vincent Piazza (Tommy DeVito), John Lloyd Young (Frankie Valli), Christopher Walken (Gyp DeCarlo) and the rest all do a wonderful job of bringing their characters to life.
In fact all the actors in the film do a splendid job. If there could be any complaint, it would be that “Joey” aka Joe Pesci as played by Joseph Russo, was all manic eyes and seemed to be more of a caricature of the man. However, the real Joe Pesci did not seem too bothered, so it must have been close.
The film looks great, the cinematography is spot on. The lighting, the sets and camera-work all come together to create a realistic feel to the film in terms of time period. There are parts of the movie that feel almost like you are watching a stage performance. In these areas, the main characters talk to the audience to either reveal what they are feeling or to introduce a scene.
All in all, the film is very enjoyable with the right amount of comedic moments and at least one very teary spot towards the end of the movie. Again, sitting in a cinema full of Jersey Boys, and girls, along with people who were part of Tommy DeVito’s life the atmosphere made it impossible to not like this film. The birthday screening was a huge success and Tommy asked that everyone wait till he could get outside the cinema where he could thank all who came. There were also gift bags. A lovely gesture to top off a great night of entertainment. The film opens today in theatres across the country.
By Michael Smith